A&E presents: Russian Moonshiners

No matter what try to write about in this class, I always end up making some sort of connection to a moment in American history. While the order in which they appear and the outcomes may be completely different, society still tends to play the same cards. Of of the most hilarious similarities I have found is in the mini-Russian Prohibition is the 1980’s.

In 1985, the USSR found that its iconic drink, vodka, was leading to a drastic rise in child abuse, people not showing up to work, and workplace accidents. On the other hand, alcohol tax was bringing in more revenue than income taxes. Gorbachev, being the proactive leader that he is, decided that it was probably a good time to limit the Soviet people from receiving their favorite drink. This did not bring a good response. Typical communism…picking the route that doesnt make money.

Gorbachev’s campaign against consuming alcohol led to bigger problems such as high increase in crime from the new black alcohol market and deaths from people trying to use surrogate alcohols (i.e. hand sanitizer, mouth wash, antifreeze).



Popular Russian Eau de Cologne “Тройной” (Troynoy; Triple)


One of the most amazing stories about bootleg alcohol in Russia is in a documentary report telling the story of a self proclaimed “sober town.” in the report it says,

“You would never guess who turned out to be the owner of the home-made miracle-working machines. It was M. M. Sodyl, Communist and leader of a crop-growing team, a member of the local organization of the Voluntary Society for the Struggle for Sobriety, and in addition a deputy on the Nedanchinskii Village Soviet. Believe it or not, at this “teetotaler’s” premises the controllers found 80 liters of moonshine brew and 17 liters of 45-proof first-brew moonshine (piervak).”

I find it amazing that even the self proclaimed big-rig Soviets did not agree with the decisions going down the ladder.





This is absolutely hilarious. I NEVER would have believed Russia to have had a prohibition era (it actually took until 2013 (around then) for them to finally classify beer as alcoholic…). Great sources and images as well!


Great post. I agree with cpurvis2, I never thought that Russia would have a prohibition, at least given the stereotype. Great images, sources, and title, too. Nice job relating their prohibition back to the United States’ prohibition era. Simply the fact that Russian moonshiners existed is a funny idea for me to try to grasp. Again, good post!


I can tell prohibition was a popular topic this week. I wrote about it for the same reason as you. The US tried the same thing and had the overall same result. These prohibitions had many more negative effects than positive.

Alex Apollonio

A lot of people chose to write about this topic, and it’s easy to see why. The fact that the USSR brought in more money from its alcohol tax than its income tax is absolutely unbelievable. As you say, there are many similarities between this situation and the U.S. under Prohibition, with the bit about the distillery being particularly reminiscent of speakeasies of the 1920s.


Nice post. It only seems fitting that local leaders themselves would disregard this law and devise ways to get around it. I would probably be suspect of any town in Russia referring to itself as a “sober town”.


I do agree with all of the ideas you have presented in your post. They’re very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for newbies. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.